How was Enova started?
The idea for Enova was sparked during a community blockade against coal seam gas at Bentley in northern New South Wales in 2014, when farmers, environmentalists and Indigenous people united to oppose coal seam gas drilling on their country.
After a long struggle, the people won.
But the blockade highlighted other concerns in the community: climate change, carbon emissions from fossil-fuel fired electricity, and claims by energy companies that the gas was needed to meet existing and future energy requirements, although it was intended for export.
Numbers of Northern Rivers residents had been discussing the possibility of community-owned renewable generation (solar and wind) for some time in North Coast Energy Forums… It should be possible to demonstrate that gas was not needed and we could meet our own energy needs from renewable sources. The idea was further progressed during the first Community Energy Conference in Canberra in July 2014.
But the drawback was that an appropriate retailer would be needed: the existing oligopoly of three large scale integrated generator-retailers (“Gentailerrs”) had no interest in assisting small scale community generation. What was needed was a very different kind of energy business – an energy retailer that: helps communities to power themselves with renewable energy, reduces carbon emissions, and keeps money and jobs circulating in towns and local businesses.
Regional shire sustainability officers, working with the Total Environment Centre and the regional office of NSW Office of Environment and Heritage obtained a grant, and called for tenders to carry out a feasibility study. A small group of four won the tender and worked throughout late 2014 and early 2015 to demonstrate the feasibility and test that with the community. Following a strong response, a business plan was developed, an application for a retail licence made, a strong board of directors put in place and a Prospectus developed and lodged - all by late August 2015.